Daytona Beach, Florida - A United Airbus A320 flight from Newark to the Bahamas was forced to make an emergency landing at Daytona Beach International Airport, due to the fire caused by a laptop battery.
The incident happened on Feb. 26. The fire was extinguished by the crew and the aircraft landed safely. No injuries reported. United said the flight to Nassau was diverted to Florida because of an issue with the passenger's portable charger for a laptop.
Emergency personnel met the aircraft and customers remained on board before the aircraft departing for Nassau," United spokeswoman Leigh Schramm told The Washington Post. "We appreciate the quick work of our employees on board to keep our customers and fellow employees safe,
the airline said.
A passenger commended the United crew's quick response to containing the fire. "Very impressed with the way this entire flight crew handled the inflight emergency," he tweeted.
The Federal Aviation Administration lists rechargeable and "non-rechargeable lithium batteries, cell phone batteries, laptop batteries" as dangerous goods and has placed them on the "prohibited items" list, which means they can't be present at all in a checked bag and can only be taken on board as long as the device they're in is completely powered down.
These new regulations were adopted after 268 incidents involving lithium-ion batteries that have been reported to the FAA in the past 15 years. This isn't the first time battery-powered devices or chargers have caused trouble on airplanes. In 2016, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was barred completely from flying by the Department of Transportation after images of people's phones catching fire, and in some cases exploding, went viral. Samsung eventually issued a full recall of the phone, but not before a smoking Galaxy Note 7 forced an evacuation of a Southwest Airlines flight.
In 2018, three US airlines placed restrictions on "smart bags" - such as those sold by the popular luggage brand Away - over FAA concerns that the lithium-ion batteries that powered features like phone chargers and internal tracking devices could potentially catch fire and explode.
Away complied with the regulations by making their batteries removable; still, the FAA has reported 191 cases of lithium-ion batteries catching fire, smoking or exploding on planes or in airports since 1991. Similar incidents have led to restrictions on lithium batteries on cargo planes.